Bursitis is inflammation of bursa sacs (bursae), which are fluid-filled sacs next to the tendons in large joints like shoulders, elbows, knees and hips.
Bursae cushion the bones, tendons and muscles in joints, and they reduce friction by providing a gliding surface. Sometimes bursitis goes away on its own over time, but we can provide treatment to help you heal quickly.
Common types of bursitis
Bursitis can happen in any bursa sac in the body, and each type has specific triggers.
The common types of bursitis include:
- Anterior Achilles tendon bursitis (also called Albert disease or retromalleolar bursitis). Caused by things like injury, disease or shoes with rigid back support. This can lead to inflammation of the bursa located where the Achilles tendon attaches to the heel.
- Posterior Achilles tendon bursitis. Occurs in the bursa located between the skin of the heel and the Achilles tendon. It is triggered by walking that presses the soft heel tissue into the hard back support of a shoe like high heels or pumps, and can cause the bone to enlarge at the back of the heel, called a Haglund deformity.
- Hip bursitis, or trochanteric bursitis. Often caused by injury, overuse, arthritis, or surgery. This type of bursitis is more common in women and middle-aged and older adults, and presents on the side of the hip.
- Elbow bursitis. Caused by the inflammation of the bursa located between the skin and bones of the elbow. Elbow bursitis can be caused by injury or constant pressure on the elbow.
- Knee bursitis (also called goosefoot bursitis or Pes Anserine bursitis). The Pes Anserine bursa is located between the shin bone and the three tendons of the hamstring muscles, on the inside of the knee. This type of bursitis may be caused by not stretching before exercise, tight hamstring muscles, being overweight, arthritis, or out-turning of the knee or lower leg.
- Kneecap bursitis, or prepatellar bursitis. Common in people who are on their knees a lot, such as carpet layers and plumbers.
- Septic bursitis. Occurs when a bursa is somehow punctured and bacteria enters it.
Treatments for bursitis
Conservative measures such as rest, ice and pain relievers may work relieve your discomfort. If they don’t work, your treatment plan might include:
- Assistive device. A walking cane or other device will help relieve pressure on the affected area.
- Corticosteroid drug injection into the bursa. Can quickly relieve pain and inflammation in your shoulder or hip. In many cases, just one injection is needed.
- Medication. Your doctor might prescribe an antibiotic.
- Physical therapy. Strengthens the muscles in the affected area to ease pain and prevent recurrence.
- Surgery. Used when an inflamed bursa must be surgically drained; removing the affected bursa is rarely necessary.
Everyone is susceptible to bursitis, but by making slight adjustments to your day-to-day activities you can potentially avoid painful flare-ups and long-term health issues. Some preventive measures include:
- Bending your knees while lifting heavy objects in order to minimize stress on the bursae in your hips.
- Consider using kneeling pads while working on the ground for extended periods of time.
- Using a dolly or cart to transport heavy loads instead of carrying them minimizes stress on the bursae in your shoulders.
- Keeping a healthy weight is essential to maintaining optimal joint health, as being overweight can result in excess stress on the joints.
- Regular exercise can be beneficial in protecting joints by strengthening the muscles around it.
- Warming up and stretching before strenuous activities can be effective in safeguarding your joints from bursae flare-ups.
You don't have to live with the pain of bursitis
We’re ready to help you treat a bursitis flare up and take any preventative steps that are right for your case.
Bursitis doesn’t have to stand in the way of you performing your best at work or play any more.
FAQs about bursitis
What is bursitis?
Bursitis is a joint affliction which occurs when bursae (fluid filled sacs that reduce friction in the area around tendons) become swollen due to inflammation.
What causes bursitis?
Bursitis is often caused by repeated pressure on an area, or by using a joint too much.
How long does bursitis last?
Bursitis can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the severity and treatment.
What happens if bursitis is left untreated?
When left untreated, bursitis can result in the permanent swelling and thickening of the bursa, leading to chronic pain and inflammation.
Can I drain my own bursitis?
Do NOT attempt to drain bursitis yourself. If you experience severe symptoms and pain, consult your doctor for treatment.
Is walking good for bursitis?
Gentle exercise can help sooth bursitis symptoms in some cases, but please consult with your doctor first.
Is a heating pad good for bursitis?
A heating pad (or a warm bath) can help relieve the pain of bursitis.
Is bursitis a form of arthritis?
Bursitis is not a form of arthritis – it is a temporary condition caused by swelling of the bursae sacs around major tendons.
Does bursitis show up on an x-ray?
An x-ray is not required to diagnose bursitis.
Does bursitis go away by itself?
Although bursitis is often a temporary condition that resolves on its own, seeking medical attention can expedite the healing process.
Orthoinfo: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Hip Bursitis (https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/hip-bursitis/)
Arthritis Foundation. Bursitis (https://www.arthritis.org/diseases/bursitis)
National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI): National Library of Medicine. Bursitis (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513340/)